Data is a risk – even if you are not looking to use it as an asset
The power of data, when combined with technology, has truly revolutionised the way smart businesses deliver an amazing customer experience at every touchpoint. Companies like Amazon and Alibaba use data to deliver a seamless buying journey and then incorporate suggestions and additional ways to add value to customers along the way, which has driven extraordinary revenue success. They show their customers they know them and reward them for their business at every interaction. They add value and, in essence, make their customers' lives easier.
There are so many examples of how data can add tremendous value to a company – yet an equally large number of case studies on how it can damage a brand if you don’t protect, leverage it or get it right.
Here’s five reasons why data should be fundamental to everything your business does in 2018.
- Data has tremendous value and gives businesses a competitive edge.
It’s hard to believe that only a few short years ago, data was a low-priority function relegated to the back room. But some of the most valuable companies in the world – Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber – have changed all that by using data to deliver outstanding service to their customers. They know their customers and continue to deliver relevant experiences that keep people coming back. This has lifted the bar for everybody.
As a consequence, it’s now recognised that data actually has value on the balance sheet. What’s more, many of the world’s financial markets also recognise it has a tangible value. There are so many examples of how data can add tremendous value to a company – yet an equally large number of case studies on how it can damage a brand if you don’t protect it, leverage it or get it right.
Many companies hire chief data officers or create a new data division thinking that will take care of things. But it’s just the beginning, or often the creation of a new silo or bottleneck.
David Rajan, director of technology for Oracle, found that 77 per cent of CIOs thought data should appear on the balance sheet as a key metric to define the value of a business.
- Consumers now have infinite choice at their fingertips.
Today’s customers, and it’s not just millennials, know they have choice thanks to the digital age. People are no longer loyal to brands and it is much easier, and more acceptable, to opt out or change to a competitor based on their last experience or interaction with a company.
They expect companies to know them, reward them and make their life easier. It’s imperative you and everyone in your business cares, because your customer cares. If your competitor cares and you don’t, you will be left behind! Your focus needs to continually be on creating extra value and showing customers you know and value them – this is only possible with data.
- Data is a risk – even if you are not looking to use it as an asset.
The deluge of data over the last few years has meant most companies' legacy systems contain years of information on their customers and products.
Even if you’re not currently using data in your business, your customers' details are private information and pose a significant security risk if not managed appropriately.
Don’t think it won’t happen to you – we’re constantly reminded every day of the reality and risks of cybercrime thanks to the growing proliferation of the ‘dark net’. If you hold any sort of customer data, comprehensive governance and security policies are a must and demand visibility and management from the top. This is not just about buying a new technology or tool or allocating responsibility to a team or individual. It requires awareness and ownership across every data touchpoint.
- Your company can’t be data-driven without leadership from the top.
Data belongs at the top table because your business can’t execute on data unless there is a top-down strategy. It has to be a conscious, cultural shift. I have seen many companies hire chief data officers or create a new data division thinking that will take care of things. But it’s just the beginning, or often the creation of a new silo or bottleneck. Data can’t just be the responsibility of one part of the business or executive. If you don’t align everything – from complaints to deliverables to customer and financial records – and design an overarching data strategy, you will never truly understand your customers.
- Becoming data-driven requires a significant cultural shift.
A commitment to data from the top table is just the beginning. Fully integrating it into your business requires significant change and a conscious, cultural shift within the business to execute and succeed. It means breaking down silos and a new way of thinking and operating. This is not something that can be implemented overnight and requires significant, continuous leadership, focus and visibility from you and your team. ‘Insights’, ‘innovation’ and ‘digital’ should all be part of your entire DNA and not limited to specific teams or business units.
Carmen Vicelich is founder and managing director of Data Insight. A self-confessed ‘data-geek’, Vicelich is passionate about helping clients deliver innovation and game-changing value through the power of data. She is also the author of ‘The Data Revolution’ - an executive guide to becoming a data-led business to compete in the ‘Age of the Customer’.
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